That was as dominant a first half of football that we’ve played since I’ve been the head coach against a quality opponent. That was really strong football and probably the best half we’ve played yet collectively. —Bronco Mendenhall, BYU head coach
Two weeks ago, nine ranked teams went down including five that were ranked in the top 10. This week, teams across the nation seemed to get the message as they took care of business. Of the 25 teams that were ranked, only six teams went down. Out of those six, four lost to other ranked opponents.
For the third week in a row, at least two teams ranked in the top 10 lost. This past weekend, then-No. 5 Missouri and No. 10 Texas Tech both fell from the unbeaten ranks, losing to South Carolina and Oklahoma, respectively.
Meanwhile, the top four teams in the country continued to distance themselves from the rest of the field as they steamrolled their way to impressive wins this past weekend. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State combined to outscore their opponents 199-55.
The local in-state teams had some big-name opponents this past weekend in Boise State and USC — so how did they fare?
After one of the biggest wins in Utah football history (over then-No. 5 Stanford) just two weeks ago, the Utes have come out flat the past two games, losing to both USC and Arizona on the road.
“We’ve got to do some soul searching offensively,” coach Kyle Whittingham told the Deseret News, who added that the coaching staff would need to figure out the deficiencies and get them corrected. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got really no throw game right now. The run game wasn’t a whole lot better.”
The turnovers, he continued, are really what have led to the team’s demise in its four losses this season.
The Utes have a bye week this week, which comes at a perfect time for the team as they deal with injuries and figuring out what they need to do in order to turn things around.
With only four games remaining, the Utes will have to win at least two games if they want to go bowling this year. Next up for the Utes is a Nov. 9 showdown against the Pac-12 South leaders, No. 25 Arizona State.
Boise State came into Friday’s night game with a 20-game winning streak over opponents from the state of Utah. The Cougars made sure the Broncos' streak did not get to 21 as they took care of business Friday night.
BYU dominated the game right from the get-go as they jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead. The Cougars coasted from there as they won 37-20.
“It was a really big win for our program,” quarterback Taysom Hill told the Deseret News, noting that it was BYU’s first-ever victory over the Broncos. Hill continued his impressive performance with another great game. Hill threw for 339 yards, three touchdowns and most importantly, no interceptions.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall talked about the win, saying, “It was a big game, a big stage, against a really good opponent. ... That was as dominant a first half of football that we’ve played since I’ve been the head coach against a quality opponent. That was really strong football and probably the best half we’ve played yet collectively.”
Just like the Utes, the Cougars also have a bye week this week before they take on No. 22 Wisconsin in a nationally televised game, either on ESPN or ABC at 1:30 p.m. MT.
After having a bye week last week, the Aggies will look to keep their momentum going as they take on Hawaii this Saturday at Romney Stadium. The Aggies are still very much in the running to claim the top spot in the Mountain Division as they are tied atop the standings with Boise State.
Darell Garretson looks to get the starting nod again at quarterback for the Aggies. Despite it being his first career start against New Mexico, the true freshman was efficient and accurate on his throws. Garretson finished the day 15-of-23 passing for 144 yards, a touchdown and most importantly, did not turn the ball over.
If the Aggies want to continue their winning ways, they will have to protect their young quarterback, make big plays and win the turnover battle.
Utah State will be counting on its fans not only for support, but to set a new record as well. The Aggies are looking for their fourth consecutive home sellout this year. Selling out the first three home games this year marked the first time in the 46-year history of Romney Stadium that USU has recorded three-straight sellouts. Prior to 2013, USU had never recorded three sellouts in the same season at Romney Stadium.
After playing four of its first five games of the year on the road, Utah State is concluding the 2013 campaign by playing three of its final four games at home.
So what do the national media members think about the local teams?
Every week, USA Today's Paul Myerberg re-ranks all the college football teams. Utah was the only local team to drop in the rankings, as it fell from No. 51 to No. 59. BYU jumped up seven spots to come in at No. 26, knocking on the top 25 door. Utah State, even with its bye, moved up 10 spots to come in at No. 57.
Like USA Today, CBS Sports also updates its rankings after every week in the college football season. So where do they rank the Utes, Cougars and Aggies?
BYU is the first team to check in, coming in at No. 29. The Cougars’ impressive victory over Boise State didn't sway voters too much as they moved up just one spot. As for the Utes, last weekend's loss to USC dropped them four spots as they check in at No. 46. Utah State dropped a spot to come in at No. 71 even though it did not play a game last week due to its bye.
The Sagarin rankings come from Jeff Sagarin, who is a well-known sports statistician who developed a methodology for ranking and rating a variety of sports. The NCAA has used his ratings for events such as the NCAA tournament, as well as the BCS.
Looking over his latest rankings, we can see that the Cougars moved up four spots to come in at No. 24, while the Utes dropped four spots to No. 39. Utah State dropped one spot to come in at No. 41. Looking at strength of schedule, we see that the Utes have faced the fourth-toughest schedule nationally, while BYU and USU's schedules come in at a respectable 21 and 47.
Out of all the rankings, the one that draws the most attention is the Bowl Championship Series standings. Those results now come out every Sunday night and will decide who will play for the BCS National Championship as well as the remaining big-money BCS bowls.
While no local teams made the initial list of 25, they were all still ranked. BYU is knocking on the door as the Cougars check in at No. 28, while Utah and Utah State come in at No. 45 and No. 78, respectively.
Even though the Utes and Cougars have a bye this week, both teams still have plenty of ranked teams they will face come November, including Arizona State, Oregon, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
If Utah State can get past Hawaii this Saturday, they will be one win away from bowl eligibility — and if some luck bounces their way, the Aggies could represent their division in the Mountain West title game in which their opponent looks to be a ranked Fresno State team out of the West Division.
Justin is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. Email: [email protected]